FCC students, faculty, and staff share stories of success, triumph,
and the individuality that fuses into our collective spirit.
Here are some of our stories:
  • Amina Ismail Dedicated Student Leader


  • Thomas Aker 19-Year-Old Graduate


  • Dawson Nash and Felix Maqueda Building Trades Scholarship


  • Justin Longerbeam New Passion for Learning


  • Julie Shattuck Teaching Hybrid Courses


  • Kat Hogan From Sea to FCC


  • Veterans Two Veteran Stories


  • Callie Gorgol White House Internship


  • Costa Rica Study Abroad in Costa Rica


  • Culinary-BoysGirlsClub Youth Explore Careers


  • PASS Program participants FCC Pass Program
  • Darrick Bowens Alum Spotlight
  • Jake Matthews Prestigious Scholarship Recipient
  • Emily Toth Fine Dining with a Purpose
  • Kristin Hayes Succeeding Despite Challenges
  • Community graphic FCC Community


  • Keagan McGinnis FCC Baseball Player
  • JohnPaullegare SGA President


  • Computer Career Computer Career Day


  • HCTI-Italy HCTI Students Go To Italy


  • Mike Pritchard Speaker Series Inspires


  • Andrea Teaching with Dignity


close Amina Ismail
Dedicated Student Leader

FCC graduate Fathuma (Amina) Ismail is still frequently spotted around the FCC campus, even after completing her A.A. in Business Administration last fall. Just last week she was giving a campus tour to two Frederick County Delegates.

Amina spent the years she was working toward her associate degree at FCC not just as a busy student, wife, and mother. She was also greatly involved in campus life, a role she hasn’t entirely given up since graduating with the FCC class of 2019.

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Amina first moved to Frederick when she married her husband, who was from the area. She has been living in the United States for seven years, and for most of that time, she has been a student at FCC.

“We live five minutes from FCC, and I knew I needed to go to school so I could get a job here,” Amina said. She began taking classes but soon took a break when her son was born.

“At first I wasn’t sure if I would go back to school, or how I was going to do it after I had my baby,” said Amina.

After finding childcare, she came back to FCC and completed her associate degree by taking daytime classes while her son was in daycare. Her busy life at home didn’t keep her from finding ways to get involved in student life at FCC. While working on her degree, Amina served as the president of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year colleges; president of the Muslim Student Association; and the vice president for finance on the Student Government Association. In addition, she was selected as the 2018 student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award winner.

“I enjoyed every moment,” said Amina. “Every day I had a learning opportunity, meeting new people. I enjoy interacting with different people of different cultures, and I was really interested in getting involved in activities and clubs.”

Amina credits a classmate at FCC for first encouraging her to get involved, and says she is glad she did.

“I didn’t think when I started that I would get this involved,” said Amina. “I had a family to take care of, and school, but it was a big activity to have and it helped me with my personality and I became a better leader. Interacting with people helps you learn new things.”

Amina now works part-time for the City of Frederick Budget Department and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in accounting at Mount St. Mary’s University, Frederick campus. She also continues to take classes at FCC. Through an agreement between FCC and Mount St. Mary’s, students can transfer in up to 75 credits, and Amina graduated with 64 credits for her associate degree. This gives her the option to continue to take classes at FCC, saving money while working toward her bachelor’s degree, and her ultimate goal of becoming a Certified Public Accountant.

Amina thanks her academic advisor at FCC for helping her select classes that would all transfer to Mount St. Mary’s, ensuring a smooth transfer. She also thanks the FCC club advisors who helped her adjust to life as a student in the United States.

“They told me how things work here; things are so different here than in Sri Lanka,” said Amina. “They really encouraged me.”

close Thomas Aker
19-Year-Old Graduate

Frederick Community College (FCC) graduate Tomas Aker earned an associate degree in information technology as well as a Network Engineer Certificate and a Computer Studies Certificate, all before his 19th birthday. Tomas graduated from high school with 31 college credits under his belt, earned through a combination of Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) articulation, advanced placement, and the FCC Dual Enrollment program. Earning these credits as a high school student helped propel his pace of completion, and he hasn’t slowed down since.
As a senior in high school, Tomas began taking FCC classes through the high school based Dual Enrollment program, which he learned about while he was a student at the FCPS Career and Technology Center (CTC). Through the program, FCPS students are able to enroll in FCC courses that are taught at their high school.
While in the Dual Enrollment program, Tomas earned 10 college credits. The following year he became a full-time FCC student and earned 31 more credits.
Tomas graduated from FCC in spring 2017 and transferred to University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where he is now in his junior year. “It’s a great school for STEM,” he said.
Tomas expects to graduate with a degree in information systems next year. He estimates that he saved around $30,000 by participating in the Dual Enrollment program and attending FCC before transferring, and will likely continue his cost savings. “I plan to come back to FCC for J-Term and summer to take Spanish classes,” he said.
Dual Enrollment helps high school students by introducing them to college level courses while still in the comfort of their high school and with teachers they may already know. Perhaps the most beneficial advantage of the program is the cost savings. Students in the high school based Dual Enrollment program are able to earn college credit for less than half the cost of taking open campus courses at FCC or enrolling after high school graduation.
FCPS students interested in the Dual Enrollment program can find more information here.

close Dawson Nash and Felix Maqueda
Building Trades Scholarship

Dawson Nash and Felix Maqueda are fiber optic technicians serving in the Army. Both are originally from out of state but have been stationed in Frederick- Dawson for 10 months, and Felix for two years. This semester they both started the Electrical Certificate program at Frederick Community College (FCC).

Both Dawson and Felix are recipients of a Building Trades Scholarship to help cover tuition and fees for the program, which can be completed in two semesters. They are looking forward to completing the Electrical Certificate program because it will help them in their current roles in the Army and get them moving on the right track for future careers.

“Career-wise, this has been a kick-start because I’d be more hesitant to start school if the financial stability wasn’t there,” Dawson said. “It’s definitely made an impact and helped cover tuition and fees.”

Without financial assistance, completing the program at this point may not have been as attainable of a goal.  “I would have to think about coming for a second semester,” said Felix. “It would have been much more difficult.”

The Building Trades Scholarships they received have enabled both students to enter the program with confidence, and they say they are extremely thankful for the assistance.

close Justin Longerbeam
New Passion for Learning

Justin Longerbeam is thriving as a second-year student in the cybersecurity program at FCC. He recently became a member of Phi Theta Kappa and is in the Honors program. He has an unmistakable passion for learning, but he hasn’t always felt that way.

Thirteen years ago, when he realized he was about to be held back in 11th grade, Justin decided he would rather drop out of high school and get a job.

It wasn’t long before he realized how much that decision was limiting his future both professionally and financially. “Years went by and I was starting to realize the importance of education,” said Justin. “I felt like I was never really breaking through the ceiling.”

During this time, Justin met his wife Susana, who had also dropped out of high school, but for different reasons. She had enjoyed school and was a good student, but dropped out in order to help her family.

Together, Justin and Susana are in the midst of a new adventure together- they are going back to school.

At age 29, they decided to get their GEDs. Justin tried using a GED preparation book but soon realized that it wasn’t working for his learning style- he needed a face-to-face environment. Not certain where to turn for help, he and Susana visited the Office of Adult Services at FCC and found out about the GED preparation classes that FCC offers.

“We came back and we kind of just jumped right in, just dove right into it,” he said.

The GED preparation staff at FCC provided the guidance they needed to complete their GEDs, and encouraged them to continue on with their educations. Justin credits the GED preparation staff with giving them the confidence to start college.

“Without them I wouldn’t have even gone back to college, because someone was there pushing me,” said Justin. “One woman told me ‘you’re never too old to go back to college,’ and that was it right there.”

Justin and Susana completed the Partnership to Student Success Program (PASS) program at FCC, a two-week summer session where students work on their reading, writing, and math skills and participate in workshops on career exploration and test taking skills. They also learn about services on campus and, at the end of the session, are able to retake placement tests and register for the fall semester.

Going back to school has given Justin the opportunity to see what he is capable of as a student. This semester he is taking honors classes and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Susana is in the surgical technology program.

“I never thought that this would be something that I could do,” said Justin. “I would always doubt myself, my wife would always doubt herself. But I’m here, and I’m really happy to be here, and I’m glad I was able to go back and get my GED and that led straight into college.”

Justin plans to transfer to Mount St. Mary’s University as part of an articulation agreement for FCC cybersecurity students who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree. The agreement also provides an option for students who want to continue on to earn a master’s degree from Hood College.

“I am so happy that I was able to discover a newfound love for education,” said Justin. “I am extremely grateful for the time that I have spent and will continue to spend at FCC. I consider this to be my second chance.”

close Julie Shattuck
Teaching Hybrid Courses

Teaching Hybrid Courses

FCC faculty members continually work to improve the way they teach in order to provide the best opportunities for student success. Dr. Julie Shattuck, FCC associate professor of English, had this in mind as she prepared her upcoming course: Teaching and Designing Hybrid Courses. Dr. Shattuck’s course will focus on technology, teaching, and innovation, and is designed for faculty who teach or plan to teach hybrid courses.

Hybrid courses, which combine online and in-person instruction, are becoming more popular among students due to the added flexibility of being able to learn remotely while still maintaining some traditional face-to-face instruction. Dr. Shattuck’s course will give faculty members the opportunity to experience a hybrid course as students, better preparing them to design and teach their own hybrid courses.

“If you think about faculty, most of us got our education in the traditional face-to-face environment, and to teach online I think the best thing you can do is be an online student,” said Shattuck. “It’s showing the faculty different ways that they can interact with their students by interacting with each other, and me, in that training course in these different ways.”

The course is being offered as part of the Faculty Scholars Program at FCC, which gives faculty experts the opportunity to create and deliver courses for other faculty members who wish to earn Teaching and Learning Hours. Dr. Shattuck is one of four faculty scholars selected for the 2018-2019 program.

“I was interested in participating because I really enjoy working with my colleagues and I have an interest in training,” said Shattuck. “I’ve worked in the past on a statewide program that trained faculty who were making the transition to teaching online, and I felt that there was a need for a similar kind of training for faculty who are making the transition to teaching hybrid courses.”

Hybrid courses are a desirable option for students, making it necessary for more faculty to be prepared to teach in this format. The new Parents Lead program at FCC, which is designed for financially-eligible parents of young children, relies on hybrid courses. Students in this program are provided a specialized curriculum and advising services as well as funding to offset the costs of childcare while they attend classes.

“The Parents Lead program was just starting, and we knew there was a need to design hybrid courses for that program and also help faculty get ready to teach those courses,” explained Shattuck. “We wanted to make sure the program would have courses that have gone through a design process that faculty had been able to access training for."

Dr. Shattuck first researched and designed her course last year, teaching it in both spring and summer. Due to continued demand, she will be training another faculty member to facilitate the course in addition to teaching it herself in the coming spring.

“I like working with faculty who are making the transition, because it is different,” said Shattuck. “I think what makes a good teacher in any of those environments is the same things, being responsive to students, but you do it in a different way. So I think it’s particularly good to have the experience of being an online or hybrid student yourself.”
Other faculty scholars for 2018-2019 include:

  • Cynthia Baush, assistant professor of art, who will focus on professional development for adjunct faculty
  • Dr. Andrea Dardello, assistant professor of English, who will focus on teaching with dignity
  • Dr. Susan McMaster, professor of business and economics, who will focus on open education resources development


close Kat Hogan
From Sea to FCC

When she was 12 years old, Kat Hogan’s father woke up one morning and told his family, “It’s time to go sailing.”

This wasn’t just a spur-of-the moment trip. It was the start of a new life.

Kat lived on the sailboat- named Invincible- with her parents and six siblings for close to five years. The family, who except for Kat’s mom, had no previous sailing experience, first spent time traveling through the intercoastal regions of the United States, then through the Western and Eastern Caribbean.

“It was kind of awkward being a teenager on a boat in such close proximity. It was a little bit of an adjustment, especially as a teenage girl,” laughs Kat. “We traveled to over 19 separate countries throughout the Caribbean.”

The family eventually became close with others in the boating community and learned that they could trust and rely on each other, whether that meant keeping an eye on each other’s children, or occasionally bartering skills to help fix each other’s boats. And while other kids her age might have been making extra money babysitting, Kat and her siblings would earn their money by going boat to boat asking others in their “community”  if they needed their hulls scraped, or the inside of their boats cleaned.

When she was 15, her family was anchored off the coast of Puerto Rico when they met a family who was vacationing from the Frederick, MD area. Their children became instant friends, and soon the families were keeping in touch and reconnecting whenever they had a chance to sail and meet up.

Kat had shown an early interest in biology and she always knew she wanted to go to college, but being homeschooled on a boat, wasn’t sure if she would be prepared. When she was 16, the family friends offered to have Kat come and visit them at their home in Jefferson, MD. This visit provided an opportunity for her to take her PSAT at Brunswick High School, and she ended up extending her visit so she could learn more about Frederick Community College (FCC) and take her placement tests there.

By 17, Kat was living in Maryland and taking classes at FCC as an open campus high school student. “I told my parents I could always come back on the boat if it didn’t work out,” she says.

But it did work out. Kat is now a full-time student at FCC, studying biology and working two jobs. She recently purchased her first car and is thinking about transferring to University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) after she graduates with her associate degree. After growing up on a crowded boat in such close proximity to her family, she has successfully navigated the challenges of applying for financial aid, enrolling in classes, and planning her academic path, much on her own.

“Everyone here cares about you and they’re willing to help you learn,” says Kat. “You’re an adult, and treated with respect, but they’re willing to help you through the process because they know you’ve never done it before.”

She has already told her younger sister that when the time comes for her to start thinking about college, she will be here to guide her along the way.

While it was a difficult adjustment at first, Kat’s upbringing has greatly shaped who she is today. She says the experience of traveling and living on a boat made her really appreciate diversity, and helps her be better able to understand people and where they come from.

“When we first moved onto the boat I told my mom I would never forgive her for taking me onto a boat, I was so upset. And I remember her telling me that one day I would thank her,” she says. “I think it was last year sometime when I went to go visit them over my winter break, I actually thanked my mom and said yeah, I’m really glad you took me onto the boat.”

close Veterans
Two Veteran Stories

Two Veterans. Two Stories.

Hans Palmer, United States Marine Corps Veteran

Hans Palmer served in the United States Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. He fought in Iraq twice, was stationed in Pendleton, CA, and was part of a Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) that served in different countries in southeast Asia, where he helped train foreign military members.

What did you gain from your military experience? I gained an insight that people are the same all over the world. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we all want the same basic things. We all want security and love, and to have our family be happy and be able to go about our lives.

How does that experience help you now as a student? I learned a lot about discipline from the Marines. The Marines are very goal orientated. You set up a goal and you need to accomplish that goal no matter what. That mindset helps me as a student now.

Why is it important for FCC to have a Veterans Center? It’s really comforting to be around other veterans who speak the same military language and have similar experiences. When people get out of the military, there are of course things they miss, so it’s nice to be able to talk about that with others and feel a little bit nostalgic.

What are your academic and career plans? I’m majoring in STEM and I plan to transfer to a four-year university and study mechanical engineering. My end goal is to work at NASA.

Peggy Trujillo, United States Navy Veteran

Tell us about your military experience. I spent 20 years in the Navy as a journalist and mass communications specialist. I’ve served in Bahrain, Japan, Sicily, on a ship in Norfolk, VA, and at Fort Meade.

How does that experience help you now as a student? The military gives you the discipline and maturity you lack coming straight out of high school. It also taught me self-confidence. I dealt with so many challenges while I was in the Navy and I learned to overcome them. Now when I face a challenge, whatever it is, I know I can handle it.

Why is it important for FCC to have a Veterans Center? Having the Veterans Center on campus is great. I was a military BRAT growing up and then joined the Navy. For the first 39 years of my life, that’s all I knew. When I got out of the military, it felt like that had been sort of ripped away from me, so being able to talk to other veterans makes a big difference.

close Callie Gorgol
White House Internship

Callie M. Gorgol, a Frederick Community College (FCC) student pursuing an Associate Degree of Applied Science in Emergency Management, has been selected to participate in the White House Internship Program.

The White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. This hands-on program, designed to mentor and cultivate today’s young leaders, strengthens the participant’s understanding of the Executive Office and prepares them for future public service opportunities.

Looking forward to her first day as a summer intern in the Administration Office of the Chief Logistics Officer for White House Continuity of Operations, Gorgol says she is “honored to be selected to perform the duties for this internship. This confirms what hard work and dedication can provide for anyone.”

During this prestigious opportunity, Gorgol plans to apply the skills and knowledge she is gaining at FCC to her role in the Office of Administration while garnering valuable insight into emergency management and continuity planning for all components within the Executive Office of the President (EOP).

Gorgol is excited to share her experiences when she returns to FCC this fall, adding, “I intend to use this learning experience to humbly benefit my fellow students so that they too will be inspired to do their best.”

The White House Internship Program is a public service leadership program whose mission is to make the “People’s House” accessible to future leaders from around the nation. About the Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management (MACEM) at Frederick Community College MACEM provides educational opportunities, career training and innovative programming to emergency management professionals in every phase at every level in the industry. Contact MACEM/FCC at 240.629.7970 or MACEM@Frederick.edu. Learn more at www.Frederick.edu/EM.

close Costa Rica
Study Abroad in Costa Rica

After leading students on a thought-provoking and thrilling trip to Costa Rica this past January, Professor Lora Diaz is now making plans for another course trip to the same location in January 2019.

The course, titled Global Scholar Experience in Costa Rica, will run January 4 through January 22, 2019. The group will travel between January 3 and January 12, 2019.

The Central American country – known for its stunning national parks and extraordinary biodiversity – is an ideal location for a global scholar experience, Diaz said.

"The diverse geography of Costa Rica gives us the opportunity for so many adventures,” Diaz said. “We zipline through jungle canopy, swim in volcanic hot springs, ride horseback through gorgeous mountains, visit a coffee plantation, and go whitewater rafting in brilliant waters – just to name a few."

Throughout the adventures, Diaz leads her students through discussions on different concepts of cultural competence, which develop their ability to interact and communicate effectively and respectfully with people of other cultures and nationalities. Students learn to listen, gain sensitivity to the verbal and nonverbal cues that people give, and how to be culturally responsive. Diaz said the trip helps students expand their world, appreciate different cultures, and learn that everyone perceives things with a different lens.

“Toward the end of the trip, the students were starting conversations and building off previously learned concepts while showing respect and appreciation for other perspectives as they discussed life in Costa Rica and shared from their own lives,” Diaz said. “It was a clear indication they were applying what we were learning and starting their journey of cultural responsiveness.”

FCC student Kaitlyn Scott was one of those students. She said the trip helped her become more culturally aware.

“Before I went on the trip, I had never been outside of the United States, so when I arrived in Costa Rica, I was surprised how different the lives of Costa Ricans were,” Scott said. “Despite this, the experience also allowed me to see how similar we are. I would recommend this experience due to the social involvement and the experiences available.”

After the 10-day trip, students return home and work on a final project, which can focus on any topic of Costa Rican culture that piqued their interest during their travels. Students on the previous trip delved into topics such as the country’s ecotourism industry, the vibrant colors of the culture and what they represent, and why the term “Pura Vida” – which means “pure life” – is such a commonly used term among Costa Ricans.  

“I heard from several students during their final projects that they realized this isn’t a class that you walk away from and are done with,” Diaz said. “For them, it’s the beginning of this cultural awareness. It’s the beginning of a journey that they will continue. The skills they learn will help them be successful wherever they go.”

For more information about the January 2019 trip, visit www.explorica.com/Diaz-2239 or contact Lora Diaz at 301.846.2551.


close Culinary-BoysGirlsClub
Youth Explore Careers

Frederick Community College partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County and the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick to give middle school students the opportunity to explore careers through a six-week summer program. 

The full-day program, which ran in July and August at FCC, exposed the students to two different areas of study each week. Students were immersed into culinary, coding, lyric writing and audio production, carpentry, architecture, gaming, and more. Classes were taught by FCC instructors.
Lisa McDonald, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County, said it was clear how much the students loved the program because of their excitement and engagement in each class.
“We focus on career development and exploration,” McDonald said. “[This program gave] opportunities to children who might not have the opportunities to come learn about culinary, coding, architecture, and a lot of fun things.”
Student Camari Wars said the culinary classes were his favorite because he learned to make new recipes he can share with his family.
Melanie Hoff, who led one of the culinary classes, said she was impressed with the creative dishes students came up with when given basic recipes and the chance to add their own style. During her class, the students learned to make homemade ricotta and carrot ravioli, roasted vegetable potpie, cinnamon sugar butternut squash, pizzas, and more.
During the culinary lab, Hoff said the students learned more than just cooking.
“They’re definitely learning teamwork,” Hoff said. “They have to work with different people every day and get along and they’re learning how to plan out a meal and use their critical thinking skills to do so.”
During an architecture class led by Sarah Malette, the students learned how to make a blueprint and size things to scale before building a model house of their own.

We thank the Boys and Girls Club, the Housing Authority, and the Ausherman Family Foundation for funding and supporting this program. We thank our FCC instructors for lending their expertise to the students.

close PASS Program participants
FCC Pass Program

When asked if they were nervous for their first day of college, three incoming first-year students all gave the same answer: no.

The students – all recent high school graduates – said completing the Partnership to Student Success Program (PASS) helped them gain confidence, familiarize themselves with the FCC campus and services, make new friends, and overall, ease any nerves they had about their first day of college classes. 

“This was a great opportunity to get my brain going before college starts,” said Cassidee Grunwald, a Linganore High School graduate. “It’s nice to feel like I already know a lot about the campus before classes even start.”

The PASS program, which was started in 2011, works to reduce the number of students in developmental courses by providing recent high school graduates who have tested into at least one developmental course the chance to work closely with faculty and staff during their transition into college. It is run by the Office of Multicultural Student Services and led by Director Chianti Blackmon and Assistant Director Persis Johnson.

The program starts with a two-week summer session during which students work on their reading, writing, and math skills and participate in workshops on career exploration and test taking skills. They also take part in team building projects that connect them to services on campus. At the end of the session, students are able to retake placement tests and register for the fall semester. 

Throughout the year, participants will continue to meet with their PASS advisor monthly to develop goals, track their progress in classes, and discuss any issues they are having as a new college student. They will also participate in continuing workshops and are encouraged to become actively engaged with campus events and activities.

For Middletown resident Kaylee Shipley, the program helped her get ready for the academic rigors of college.

“The program was a way to find out what college assignments are like, and see that I could do them,” Kaylee said. “I also really enjoyed getting support and advice from faculty on how to be successful in college.”

Amy Lee, Associate Professor of English, is one of those faculty members and has been involved with the PASS program since its beginning. One of the students in the very first class now has his master’s degree, she said. Getting to work with these students each year inspires her.

“At the start of each class, I have students introduce themselves and state their academic and career goals,” Professor Lee said. “I am always left speechless since their diverse and noble answers remind me of the reason I am so invested in teaching at FCC—these remarkable students are the future. This year’s group is no exception—this is a special group of students.”

The Foundation generously provided these students with a scholarship to use for the fall semester. If they stay committed to the PASS program and earn good grades, they will also receive a spring semester scholarship.

Professor Lee said the program is successful each year because of the work ethic of the students and the staff and services at FCC that support them.

“The hard work, dedication, and passion from the Office of Multicultural Student Services as well as countless other administrators, faculty, staff members, and student workers involved in the program offer a glimpse into what makes our students successful at FCC and beyond,” she said. 

close Darrick Bowens
Alum Spotlight

Darrick Bowens, a Frederick native who graduated from Thomas Johnson High School, completed his Associate of Arts in Business Administration Degree from FCC in 1990. After FCC, he joined the U.S. Army, serving for five years. He then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Wayland Baptist University and a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Strayer University. Darrick is now a franchise owner of Colbert/Ball Tax Service, LLC in Frederick, where he provides tax planning, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services. Darrick is the chair of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur Council Steering Committee and a member of the FCC Foundation Board of Directors.
What are some of your best memories from your time at FCC?
I played basketball at FCC and have many great memories from that. It was fun playing with guys from around the county and nearby areas and building team camaraderie. Our team had a lot of support from the student body and professors, as well as the college president at the time, Dr. [Lee] Betts, who all came out to cheer us on during our games. My professors also always made themselves available and were happy to help after class to make sure I succeeded.

What did you gain from your time at FCC?
The importance of time management was the biggest lesson I learned at FCC. I took between 12 and 15 credits each semester, played basketball, and had other responsibilities, so trying to do well while balancing all of that was a great lifelong lesson for me. I also learned about the importance of showing respect for others, and how others will respect you if you treat them with respect. Those are two lessons I still use today.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do now?
I am all about building relationships, and that’s what I do in my work every day. Any time I work with a new client or customer, I tell them “welcome to the family,” and I mean that. Most of my clients treat me like a family member – they text or call my cell phone instead of relying on only an office phone number. They know that I’m easy to get into touch with and ready to help them.

Why do you think FCC is so important to the community?
For one, the education it provides. It’s a great option for students who want to stay local, figure out what career they want to go into, and not have to spend as much money as they would at a four-year college. If they do transfer to a four-year college, they have a high success rate because of the education they get at FCC and the time management skills they learn. FCC also plays an important part in the bigger community through all the events it hosts and sponsors. FCC is always involved in so much in our community. 

close Jake Matthews
Prestigious Scholarship Recipient

FCC honors student Jake Matthews has been awarded a prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship.

Jake, who will graduate from FCC later this year with an Associate of Arts Degree in general studies, was one of just 61 community college students nationwide and one of three in Maryland chosen for the scholarship, which will provide him up to $40,000 annually for a maximum of three years to complete his bachelor’s degree.

“We are grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for their commitment to higher education and for awarding these scholarships to outstanding college students like Jake,” said FCC President Elizabeth Burmaster. “We are proud of all Jake’s accomplishments and are glad he has taken advantage of the many academic opportunities available at FCC, including our Honors College.”   

After completing his FCC degree, Jake plans to transfer to College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics or government. He also now hopes to attend law school, something he previously assumed was out of reach for him since he was planning to pay for his undergraduate degree on his own.

Jake started at FCC two years ago, after spending a few years after high school working a variety of odd jobs and trying to break into the music industry. After helping support his wife, Laurén, while she earned her bachelor’s degree, he decided a college education was the next best step for him, too.

After enrolling at FCC, Jake quickly got involved with the Honors College thanks to the support from Dr. Bruce Thompson, Honors Coordinator. It was encouragement and advice from Dr. Thompson that motivated Jake to apply for this scholarship.

“Jake is a role model for honors learning,” said Dr. Thompson. “His original research on how the Democratic Party maintained power in Maryland got him selected to present at the Northeast Regional Honors Council conference, and his commitment to public service inspires others to make a difference.”

In addition to the monetary scholarship provided by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Jake will also receive comprehensive education advising and a connection to other scholarship awardees and program alumni, something he is especially looking forward to. Jake hopes it will be similar to the connections he has with other students in the FCC Honors College, who he says help each other stay motivated and continue to succeed.

He is also grateful to the supportive environment he found at FCC.

“FCC provided me the opportunity, flexibility, and affordability to change my life for the better and I hope others will take advantage of that,” said Jake.

close Emily Toth
Fine Dining with a Purpose

FCC student Emily Toth took a chance and purchased a knife set. It was a big investment for the psychology major, who had realized she didn’t want to be a psychologist. But she had always loved cooking.

“My family has always been intrigued with cooking,” said Emily. “My mom used to put cooking shows on for me as I fell asleep for my naps. The Food Network has always been my favorite.”

Emily told herself she would just try it out, and signed up for one introductory culinary class. This spring, she is wrapping up her final semester of the culinary arts program at FCC, and she’s doing it in a big way.

Patrons of 200 Monroe are likely to meet Emily as they dine in the gourmet student-run restaurant. Opening week she was working in the “front of the house” as a server. Those visiting the restaurant over the next few weeks may find her taking her turn in the “back of the house” preparing their meals. When speaking about the experience and what it means to her, Emily’s passion for cooking is palpable.

“I never thought I’d be able to do something as big as becoming a chef,” she said.

200 Monroe restaurant is a capstone learning experience for FCC culinary and hospitality students, and an unexpected treat for community members who happen upon it. Students in their final semester of the program spend weeks preparing for this experience. From learning the ins and outs of dining etiquette, to how to properly set a table, speak with guests, develop a menu, and prepare items, students are prepared for the opportunity to run the restaurant in every regard. “It demonstrates everything we’ve learned over the last four semesters of the program,” said Emily.

The uniqueness of the restaurant is not lost on the students. They are acutely aware of the expectations of their customers and the faculty who are there guiding them. At the end of each evening, in addition to staying to clean up, students spend another 30 minutes with faculty reviewing survey responses collected from the evening’s diners. Patrons are provided survey cards as soon as they are seated and are encouraged to be forthright with their feedback, as this is a vital aspect of the learning experience- and grading- for students.

200 Monroe presents an exciting real-life situation for the soon-to-be graduates of the program. “There’s something so thrilling, it’s a rush you get to prepare so many dishes under a time crunch,” said Emily about what she was most looking forward to on opening night. “It’s a high-pressure industry, and even though it’s stressful at times, it’s a challenge. I’m most looking forward to the challenge.”

Students who may have entered the program with little to no cooking experience are able to prepare gourmet items including smoked mozzarella arancini, Flemish beer braised petite beef tender, chicken roulade, and salmon en papillote upon completion. These are just a few of the selections available this spring at 200 Monroe.

“For people coming to have a dining experience at 200 Monroe, it’s really special for them,” said Emily. “We have a kitchen set up in the dining room so they can see the students working professionally, preparing their meals and working with each other.”

This is the eighth season that 200 Monroe has opened, and it is obvious that the culinary students running the restaurant and the chefs who have prepared them are passionate about what they do. Students get to finish out their program experiencing the excitement of applying what they’ve learned, and community members are able to enjoy an excellent meal while supporting them.

“The biggest thing for us to work successfully is communication,” said Emily. “To perform with excellence in everything we make. I’m going to work as hard as I can to demonstrate what I’ve learned.”

Reservations for 200 Monroe are required and can be made online by clicking here. For more information about the FCC Hospitality, Culinary, and Tourism Institute, click here.

close Kristin Hayes
Succeeding Despite Challenges

Kristin Hayes is in her second semester at FCC. A pre-nursing student, she plans to transfer to a four-year school to study functional medicine after completing her degree at FCC. She is finally on the path that she had imagined for herself a decade ago, an accomplishment that bears even more significance considering the challenges she has faced along the way.

When Kristin was in the process of applying to nursing school nine years ago, her plans were suddenly put on hold when her seven-year-old son Gavin was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. 

Over the next four years, Kristin focused on getting her son better while doing her best to keep his life as normal as possible. While she was in and out of Children’s Medical Center with him during treatments, she applied to Kaplan University and earned an associate degree in medical assisting. “I needed something to distract me at the time,” she said.

The online courses made it possible for her to make progress toward her career goals while taking care of her son. As he went through years of chemotherapy, she made sure, to the best of her ability, that he was able to continue doing the things he wanted to do. “He wanted to play football, so he had his port removed, choosing to have chemo given in his hand so he could play,” she explained.

The treatments worked. Gavin is now 16 years old and a cancer survivor, and Kristin, a mother of two boys, is back on track pursuing her educational and career goals. She is part of the Parents Lead program at FCC, and the recipient of a scholarship that helped cover the cost of her classes and books. She was able to purchase a laptop with the money that was left over, which was an additional help considering her classes are mostly online.

Newly a single mom, Kristin was recently faced with another challenging situation when she had to move out of the home she had been renting. Without the help of a Student Success Fund grant she received, she would not have been able to afford to move into a new home while continuing to attend FCC.

“This Student Success grant helped me through a troubling time as a single mother,” said Kristin. “I was faced with a huge change and without this fund, I would not be able to soar into my academic future. For this I am forever grateful.”

Kristin is thankful for the support she has received and maintains a positive outlook when looking back on the challenges she has faced. “A series of life events led me to a better place in my life,” she said. “It was a blessing, really. Everything is falling into place. I will succeed, and I have this fund to thank for getting me over this unexpected hump.”

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FCC Community

Discover why faculty, staff, and students appreciate FCC.


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FCC Baseball Player

Former FCC Baseball Player Prepares for Division I Athletics
When Keagan McGinnis graduated from high school in Virginia, he knew he wanted to continue his baseball career. He had heard about Frederick Community College (FCC), and knew that one of his assistant coaches, as well as a number of other baseball players from his high school, had attended the college.

The reputation of its baseball program, along with academics, made FCC stand out to Keagan. “I wanted to continue my baseball career, so I went to FCC,” he said.

The decision to attend FCC, and subsequently George Washington University, wasn’t based solely on baseball. “Academics was the biggest deciding factor,” said Keagan. “My parents and I have always said school comes first, baseball comes second. So I knew I was going to go to a good academic school.”

While earning his associate degree in business administration at FCC, Keagan was also earning recognition on the mound as a pitcher. With the goal of continuing to improve as a player and transferring to a four-year school, Keagan worked with FCC Head Baseball Coach Rodney Bennett to make it happen.
After reaching out to the pitching coaches at George Washington University, sending his grades, background information, and video from a game he had played earlier in the season at FCC, Keagan and Coach Bennett were able to arrange for the George Washington coach to come for a visit.
“He came to a game and watched me throw,” said Keagan.
The George Washington coach liked what he saw, and before the FCC season ended Keagan had made his decision. “I wanted to go to the school that fit me best, where I could also be successful academically,” he said. “I was open to wherever worked out best, and it ended up being a Division I (DI) school.”
Keagan credits his time at FCC with helping him develop both academically and as an athlete. “I was able to continue on a path so I could eventually get my master’s, and to get my confidence back where it needed to be to compete at a DI school,” said Keagan.
Keagan has fond memories of his time at FCC. “The guys on the team made it what it was,” he said. “I enjoyed being around my teammates and doing what I came there to do which was get on the mound and pitch and get myself seen.”
And he wasn’t alone. While he was playing at FCC, there were four other players from his high school on the team with him.
More than 175 of Coach Bennett’s players have gone on to play in the NCAA or the NAIA, including 26 all-Americans, four MLB draftees, two MLB free agents, and a national player of the year. Five FCC players from last year are planning to play DI baseball this season.

“It makes me extremely proud that student athletes choose the FCC baseball program to develop and then reach the pinnacle of their abilities by attaining NCAA Division I opportunities," Coach Bennett, who also works as an FCC generalist advisor, said. "I believe the supporting system of our coaches, administration, and facilities all help shape our baseball players by developing them as athletes, students, and good citizens. We give them a structured system that allows them to grow and become better players and people.”

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SGA President

FCC Graduate and Outgoing SGA President Credits FCC with Leadership Development

John-Paul Legare, a recent Frederick Community College graduate and outgoing Student Government Association president, credits his development as a leader to his FCC experience. He describes his role as a student-leader as challenging, formative and illuminating.

“At FCC, I met so many different people and learned so much from them,” LeGare said. “I have been so inspired by the college’s leadership, and that has helped me grow into a more confident and capable leader.”

LeGare’s resume reveals a well-disciplined and motivated student with exemplary test scores, impressive academic grades and roles in the Honors Program and numerous student clubs. n person, he registers as wise and articulate beyond his young age. His confident delivery and compassion reinforce the public speaking awards he’s received over the years. LeGare believes that leadership starts with communication. “I like to talk with other students about their academic and career ambitions,” he said. “This conversation helps students recognize their goals, and it inspires me to support them however I can.”

FCC President Elizabeth Burmaster described LeGare as an excellent representative of the college.

“Throughout his time at FCC, John-Paul has proven himself to be a motivated leader who finds countless ways to get involved,” Burmaster said. “It has been a joy to get to know him and watch him grow as a leader. We are proud to call him an FCC graduate and know he will continue to accomplish great things.”

What is perhaps LeGare’s most striking trait is the earnest pride he shows in supporting the success of others. He values his peers and finds it rewarding to help others grow to their full potential. “In my first semester, I met a student who was going through a lot of challenges in his life that were affecting his studies,” LeGare said. “He particularly struggled with talking to new people. Together, we worked on developing his social skills so he could find a sense of belonging and integrate with his peers. With a newfound confidence, he earned academic success, became the leader of a student club and graduate.”

LeGare believes that good leaders are eloquent speakers, but great leaders are also engaged listeners.“So many of my peers achieve amazing things such as attending prestigious honors and STEM conferences, playing in the college World Series and winning technology competitions,” LeGare said. “As a leader, I share pride and excitement for their success. This builds a stronger community where we celebrate achievements together.”

Leaders may receive popular acclaim for visionary changes, but LeGare finds that leaders also exist by bringing dimension and conviction to support roles. He doesn’t think of himself as a leader who needs to make changes. Instead, he would rather inspire others and use his position to help them realize their vision for FCC.

LeGare was moved by how much he learned at FCC, both in and out of the classroom. “The faculty and staff are incredibly dedicated to serving the students and do an exceptional job keeping students at the center of their mission,” LeGare said. “Leadership can be taught in a lot of ways and many places. FCC gave me the chance to experience leadership firsthand, and that’s something I’ll take with me forever.”

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Computer Career Day

FCC Faculty and Staff Bring Students and Employers Together for CIS Career Day
Frederick Community College (FCC) Career Services Coordinator Anne Scholl-Fiedler is dedicated to bringing employers and FCC students together. One of her recent successes is the organization of CIS Career Day at FCC. This event focuses on the computer science, information technology (IT), and cybersecurity industries and connects individuals looking for internships and entry level employment with local employers.

The event, which is held once a semester each spring and fall, was developed with the assistance of FCC faculty member Dr. Andy Yao, who serves as program manager for computing and business technology career programs, as a way to support FCC IT students.

“I reached out to Dr. Yao and was looking for ways we could help support our IT students, and he suggested an event to help students pull together their resumes and prepare for job interviews,” said Scholl-Fiedler. “I suggested turning it into a career fair.”

A number of local businesses are invited to set up for the event held in the FCC Conference Center.

This fall marks the second year of CIS Career Day at FCC. The most recent event, held this past spring, had more than 100 attendees including students and community members.

In addition to local employers, representatives from local four-year colleges and universities are also in attendance. The upcoming CIS Career Day, which will be held Wednesday, October 24, from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the FCC Conference Center, will include representatives from Mount St. Mary’s University and Hood College who will be available to talk about their programs.

Running concurrently with the career fair are workshops on IT resume preparation, interviewing skills, and trends in the IT industry.

Rod Vasquez, a representative from Intelice Solutions based in Frederick, said his company has attended the past two CIS Career Day events. “We were out here in the fall and saw much talent that is hitting the market,” said Vasquez. “We’re very excited about what FCC is doing in terms of producing high quality technicians looking to hit the workforce.”

“People do get hired as a result of this event,” said Scholl-Fiedler.

Employers are still being accepted for the upcoming CIS Career Day. Those interested in attending are invited to contact Anne Scholl-Fiedler at 301.624.2795. More information is available here.

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HCTI Students Go To Italy

Studying abroad provides a valuable opportunity for students to continue their studies while experiencing a new place, new culture, and new way of doing things. It’s an opportunity that they might not expect to find available to them when attending community college, but students at Frederick Community College (FCC) are fortunate. They have the opportunity to learn and hone their craft both on campus and on the other side of the globe.

A group of students in the FCC Hospitality, Culinary, and Tourism Institute (HCTI) recently traveled to Italy for an intensive 10-week internship program where they were able to work at different restaurants in different parts of the country.

Austin Lacoste spent his days at a restaurant in the town center of picturesque Amalfi. He started in the pastry department, where he learned to prepare Italian desserts. Once he moved to the kitchen, a large part of his day was spent prepping fresh vegetables and seafood – including shrimp, tuna, squid, and fish – to be incorporated into dishes.

It didn’t take long for Austin to notice differences between cooking in Italy and cooking in the U.S.

“Their seasonings are definitely lighter than what we’re used to [in the U.S.],” Austin said. “It’s more about the freshest of the local fare around there whether it’s seafood or tomatoes or lemons, the quality of ingredients is tremendous.”

Austin’s biggest takeaway from his time in an Italian kitchen was the importance of staff working together and supporting each other. “I definitely learned a few things while I was there as far as teamwork and working as a unit,” he said. “It definitely broadened my horizons as far as what I’ve been exposed to, from what I’ve learned in school to my own personal cooking background.”

While he did take short trips to Pompeii and Capri, there wasn’t much downtime after working 12 to 14 hours a day, six days a week.

Anticipating the hot Italian weather combined with the grueling work schedule made student Shonda Washington apprehensive about signing up for the internship opportunity. After some encouragement from Elizabeth DeRose, HCTI Manager, she decided she was up for the challenge.

“I went there open-minded to learn, open-minded to other people’s culture,” she said.

Shonda worked in a hotel restaurant located on the beach in Positano. She would prep ingredients in the morning and cook dishes in the evening, all while observing the experienced chefs around her.

“I learned my observation was just as important as my hands-on experience,” Shonda said. “All the cooks in the kitchen were wonderful and I learned a lot from each one.”

Shonda received a job offer to be the chef at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy soon after returning home from Italy. She credits her internship abroad with giving her the skills and confidence needed to land the job.

“The value of studying abroad for me was being able to come back to the U.S. and be confident in working in the kitchen,” Shonda said. “I was confident enough to put in applications for chef positions instead of line cook positions or prep cook positions. It was a lot of fun, hard work. But hey, I got a job. I’m a chef. That’s what Italy did for me.”

close Mike Pritchard
Speaker Series Inspires

An award-winning filmmaker. An Appalachian Trail finisher. A cybersecurity expert. What do these people have in common? They will be visiting Frederick Community College (FCC) to speak with students and young adults as part of the Moving Mountains Speaker Series.

Moving Mountains is a free monthly speaker series for teens and young adults. Speakers, including local professionals and community members with a unique or interesting story, are selected to cover a wide array of topics, discuss their successes and challenges, and share important life and career lessons.

The series motto is, “Get the most out of life, so life can get the most out of you.”

The concept of Moving Mountains came from FCC Director for Special Projects Mike Pritchard, who realized the value in providing young people with an opportunity to hear from inspirational and successful community members. Part of this realization was based on an impactful experience he had as a teenager.

“When I was a teen, my parents took me to hear someone affiliated with Jacques Cousteau, who was, back in the day, one of the most famous underwater explorers,” said Pritchard. “I was riveted by this presentation and the photos and the film of this underwater world.”

The experience inspired Pritchard to become certified as a scuba diver when he was just 17 years old. When he began developing the Moving Mountains series, he envisioned it as a program that would provide similar opportunities for inspiration for young people in our community.

“That presentation really opened the door for me into this wonderful world, so I am really hoping that things like that will inspire teens if they hear a topic, or it just expands their world in a way that may not be expected,” he said.

The featured speakers encourage young people to set the bar high in all areas of life including career choices, finances, relationships, and more. Each talk includes a 30- to 40-minute presentation, followed by a question-and-answer period.

“We really want teens and young adults to make great decisions,” said Pritchard. “When I plan the speakers, I try to include a wide array of topics from science to technology to finances so that the series appeals to a wide range of teens and young adults.”

FCC works with Frederick County Public Schools in supporting and promoting the series, and partnerships with Frederick County Public Libraries and the YMCA of Frederick County help get the word out.

This marks the fourth year of the series, which continues to gain popularity among community members. Pritchard has received positive feedback from both the teens and the parents who attend. “We can all glean something from the speakers that inspires us, no matter our age,” said Pritchard.

Those who attend three of the six sessions in an academic year have the opportunity to earn a certificate of participation and leadership, which can be used in a number of ways. “The certificate shows they’ve taken the initiative to grow personally, and serves as one more tool that can be used when applying for the National Honor Society, on a job application, on a resume, or college application,” said Pritchard.

The series is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Pre-registration is available here. Each session is held from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in the JBK Theater, Visual & Performing Arts Center, at FCC.

close Andrea
Teaching with Dignity

Faculty Scholars Program

Dr. Andrea Dardello, FCC assistant professor of English, will soon expand one of her courses to a new type of student: peers. Later this year, FCC faculty will be invited to participate in a six-week course of universal importance: Teaching with Dignity.

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at FCC offers a Faculty Scholars Program that supports the professional development needs of full-time and adjunct faculty. Faculty experts are given the opportunity to create and deliver courses for other faculty members who wish to earn Teaching and Learning Hours. Dr. Dardello has been selected as one of four faculty scholars for this year’s program.

“One of the things I absolutely love about working here is that I have found my niche,” said Dardello. “I have found a place where I can continue to do the work that I’ve always been interested in doing.”

Dr. Dardello is excited about her course, which is designed for teachers and emerging leaders and will enable them to effectively utilize cultural competency skills both inside and outside the classroom.

“In this course, we get to look at ways in which we can help students understand their worth in the classroom,” said Dardello. “One of the ways we do that is through validating their gifts and talents and the strengths they already bring. We get to do that by listening to their stories. We get to do that by holding them accountable, giving them the benefit of the doubt, for believing the best about them and helping to bring that out.”

Teaching with Dignity is designed to help faculty members examine themselves as professors. During the course, faculty participants will complete a project about maintaining dignity as the center of their teaching.

“To teach this type of course I had better have had the experience with it, because you want to talk to faculty,” explained Dardello. “They want to be able to trust that you’re speaking from an authentic space. So the topics we will delve into are in fact conversations that I have had with my students, and from that perspective I bring a lot of theory. I’ve read the books, I’ve studied the concept, but I also bring experience as well. I think you need to bring both in order to facilitate the conversation from an honest and authentic space.”

Other faculty scholars for 2018-2019 include:

  • Cynthia Baush, assistant professor of art, who will focus on professional development for adjunct faculty
  • Dr. Susan McMaster, professor of business and economics, who will focus on open education resources development
  • Dr. Julie Shattuck, associate professor of English, who will focus on designing and facilitating hybrid courses